For decades before the six grain silos at the Ganson Street RiverWorks complex bore the name Labatt Blue, they bore the initials GLF.
The site was home to the then- state-of-the-art Wheeler elevator starting around 1908, replacing the earlier wooden elevator shown below.
The Grange League Federation bought the elevators in 1929 and renovated and added to the structures over the next handful of years. At top production, a grain mill built on the site in 1930 was filling 100 rail cars with hog and cattle feed every day.
The GLF C-Annex was built in 1936. Its six main 100-foot tall, 21-feet across bins could hold up to 154,700 bushels of grain.
In 1964, GLF merged to combine Agway, and the milling and storage work done on the Buffalo River eventually moved to Tonawanda. The site was abandoned in the mid-1970s.
In 2014, the six silos of the GLF-C annex were painted blue and wrapped with giant vinyl beer can labels. RiverWorks co-owner Doug Swift called it “the largest six-pack in the world.”
For decades, the Ohio Street Bridge was ground zero for the fight between Buffalo’s road traffic and Buffalo’s water traffic.
Buffalo News archives
Before the Skyway was built, Ohio Street was a major artery. From the motorist’s perspective, the bridge served as access for all the men coming from the south who worked in the mills and elevators along Buffalo Creek as well as men who worked downtown.
That was at odds with the thoughts of shipping interests, however.
“The Ohio Street Bridge has long been a hindrance to navigation in the (Buffalo) river,” a tug line manager told the Courier-Express in 1928.
The bridge spanned the Buffalo River at one of the tight hairpin curves in the waterway. Even without the bridge, as time wore on, it was becoming a difficult area for larger, more modern ships to navigate. The 621-foot freighter Cadillac, it was explained in 1950, had less than three feet of clearance in making the turn.
When city engineers began blasting around the bridge to make a larger way for ships like the Cadillac, the bridge’s central pier was damaged, and the bridge was closed for months.
The subsequent traffic nightmare helped push along long-discussed plans for the high-level bridge and highway along the waterfront that was to become known as The Skyway.
Fifty-five years later, Buffalonians are growing increasing excited as new and innovative uses are being created for the aging, hulking grain elevators and mills along the Buffalo River.
But this week in 1960, the chairman of International Milling would have “looked at you funny” had you told him the best use for grain elevators might be to wrap them to look like beer cans so people have something interesting to look at while they play outdoor ice hockey.
Charles Ritz — who hailed from Minneapolis, not Buffalo, mind you — said things like “Buffalo’s geographic advantage cannot be matched” and “Buffalo is best situated to supply growing populations of the American Northeast.”